Gelfenstein Farm’s Sharp Azteca was the dominating winner of Saturday’s G2 Hardacre Mile Gulfstream Park Handicap, pulling away in the middle of the turn and drawing clear easily to win by open lengths. The 4-year-old son of Freud, ridden by Edgard Zayas, covered the one-turn mile over Gulfstream’s fast main track in 1:34 2/5 for trainer Jorge Navarro.
“We’ll see how he comes out first, but our plan is Dubai,” said Navarro. “If everything goes good in Dubai which we expect after this performance, the Met Mile.”
Challenged throughout the early stages of the race by Blofeld, Sharp Azteca dispatched of his rivals in simple fashion heading into the stretch. The pair did get away with mild early fractions for the one-turn mile of :23.61 and :46.21, but Sharp Azteca began to draw away by a length at the quarter pole.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better plan,” said Navarro. “Breaking was slow, they kind of bumped him and I was like, ‘Whoa, what happened?’ When [Blofeld] went with him, that’s what I wanted. I really wanted a horse to go with him, because this horse can get lazy. If you look at the replay in Louisiana, 24 and 49 [seconds], and he got caught on the wire. He needs somebody to go with him. When I saw that, I said ‘All right.’”
Awesome Banner looked as though he might be able to mount a challenge, but turning into the stretch Sharp Azteca was clearly much the best, drawing away with the greatest of ease to win by open lengths. Awesome Slew did close to finish second, with Tommy Macho checking in third. Awesome Banner faded to fourth.
“It worked out perfect for him,” Zayas said. “I was a little worried because I didn’t really want to go to the lead because he needs a horse to be a target. When he gets the lead he gets kind of lazy. But it set up perfect. When the other horse [Blofeld] went to the lead, it set up well. My horse he’s a grinder. He’s a one-paced horse and he just doesn’t stop. Coming to the turn I hit him twice and he picked it up and after that it was all over.”
Bred in Kentucky by Cloyce C. Clark Jr., Sharp Azteca was a $ 220,000 OBS 2-year-old in training sale purchase. The Gulfstream Park Handicap is just his second graded stakes win, boosting his overall record to five wins and three seconds from 10 starts, with earnings of over $ 550,000.
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